Red and blue polos with slacks. Blazers and ties. Dresses and heels.
It was definitely an Ole Miss event.
Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze and athletics director Ross Bjork stopped at the Grand Magnolia Ballroom in Pascagoula for a luncheon as part of their 2013 BancorpSouth Rebel Road Trip.
Freeze and company arrived on a huge tour bus to a sold-out Scranton's luncheon of 215 Ole Miss fans and alumni, including myself.
The event kicked off with an autograph session. Fans lined around the room to get their poster schedule signed by the coach and had the opportunity to take pictures with Freeze and both the Egg Bowl trophy and the 2013 SEC Tournament trophy that the basketball team earned earlier this year.
Thankfully, I was able to sneak in a picture.
A video slide show to Imagine Dragons' “It's Time” showed the accomplishments across athletics in the past year. There's something about those Ole Miss videos, but I either tear up or get chills. Every. Single. Time. This time, I did both.
Ross Bjork spoke first, cracking jokes about the Egg Bowl trophy and talking about his time so far with Ole Miss athletics. He talked about the new developments, including a new 10,000 seat basketball arena that will begin construction in 2014. Bjork also mentioned a $12 million renovation to facilities, including the addition of a nutrition center and dining hall to the indoor practice facility.
But more importantly, at least to Ole Miss fans, he talked about the change in attitude over the past year. Since he arrived, a lot has changed in Ole Miss sports. Bjork said fans are now saying “We are Ole Miss” in a positive way, rather than in a negative one describing a loss and he wants to continue to raise the bar.
“We're not perfect, but if we don't believe, then who will?” Bjork said.
Coach Hugh Freeze was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation and a “Hotty Toddy” cheer. Fans are excited about what Freeze has done with Ole Miss football, including this year's top five recruiting class, but Freeze warned fans about unrealistic expectations.
“Expectations that don't come true can lead to frustration,” Freeze said.
Throughout the whole event, I couldn't help but smile. I'm so proud of my alma mater and the great things that are happening there each and every day and I truly hope that graduates of other schools have the same sense of pride that Ole Miss Rebels have for our university.
-- Christina Steube